*Disclaimer!* I wrote a handful of articles for a now defunct e-zine called BthroughZ some years back, and when that site went belly up, so didn’t the reviews I wrote for it. I didn’t want to lose the articles I worked so hard to write, so over the next few months I will be reposting them here for your enjoyment.
"Out of the ring, into the fire...in a fight to the finish!" is the battle cry tagline for the 1994 Martial Arts epic, Undefeatable. Funny thing about that tag line though, is there’s only one scene with an actual boxing ring in it. But I suppose that doesn’t matter seeing as the man fighting within this ring is the almighty Stingray, a man so badass that his actual job is to kick ass and kick a lot of it.
With intense baby blues and a full bodied, shoulder length mullet, Stingray (Don Niam) is one of the most intense characters you'll ever see in a direct to DVD karate movie from 1994 starting Cynthia Rothrock. Though, being a super badass is simply not as easy as one would think. I mean, even Stingray’s own wife, Anna (Emille Davazac), is deathly afraid of him. I suppose you really can’t blame her, though. When a normal man comes home from work, a nice hot dinner waiting at the dinner table is pretty friggin awesome. Well, awesome if you're a pussy. When you're Stingray, however, you expect a nice hot piece of Anna ass when you get home from a hard day of busting heads, THEN dinner would come next. Regardless, Anna doesn't quite understand this ‘theory’ and decides that leaving her husband is a better idea than getting raped everyday at 5:22 PM.
Unfortunately for Anna, Stingray has major mama trauma issues, and leaving him just adds fuel to his unstable fire. You simply do not leave Stingray; Stingray leaves you... Dead! Now completely out of his gourd, Stingray sets out to find Anna, but his rage seems to cloud his senses, causing him to mistake any woman who shares Anna's red hair color, and floral dress fashion sense, for being his wife. Apparently, there were numerous red heads rockin' floral dresses back in the mid-90s, because Stingray finds plenty of them. And naturally, he proceeds to rape, torture, and then murder each and every one of them. What’s funny though, is that most of the women who Stingray runs into seem to be - or be with, someone who is trained in the Martial Arts. The chances are low, but in the mid-90s anything can happen. Fanny Pack popularity is my proof of that.
One of the unfortunate Anna look-alikes who happens to cross Stingray's path also happens to have a sister named Kristi, who just so happens to be played by Cynthia Rothrock, who also happens to be the toughest person to ever be in a movie called Fast Getaway. Kristi is not all too thrilled that her sister was murdered, so she goes on a quest to find and kill the man behind her death: Stingray! But before we get into all that, I’d like to take a moment to talk a little bit about Kristi's backstory. Kristi is a straight up street thug, and when she isn't waiting tables and serving lunch at her restaurant job, she's making cash busting heads and serving knuckle sandwiches in underground street fights. Furthermore, Kristi is also the only white chick in an all Asian gang called the Dragon Claws or Paws or some shit. Either way, this is one of the toughest street gangs around with all three members basically being a ‘90s version of the vicious ‘30s street gang known as the Three Stooges.
How does a good-looking white chick get into an all Asian gang? Because she got the skills to pay the bills when it comes to whopping dat ass, and much like a female version of Lionheart (Lionessheart?), Kristi makes a living by fighting in an underground fight club. Through this criminal act, Kristi meets Detective Nick DiMarco (John Miller), who hauls her to jail for her illegal underground fighting activities. Nick is a good cop and a good guy; he is also a pretty sick Martial Artist himself, which is just so crazy considering how many people are so competent at ancient fighting styles in this film. Anyway, Nick sees something in Kristi (*cough* tits *cough*); he sees that she's a good kid who is just a little lost and needs some guidance down the right path... to his pants.
Nick's spot on thoughts about Kristi are confirmed when he learns that the living she earns by fighting is not necessarily for herself. Instead, she uses the money to pay Anna’s medical school tuition. You see, Kristi wants to see her good-natured sister do well in life and is willing to risk her life by fighting to make that happen. However, in case you might have forgotten, Stingray stung Kristi's sister and Nick happens to be the man on the case, so naturally both Nick and Kristi must come together as a team to find and destroy the menace known as Stingray! Who will end this film as the one who is most Undefeatable? That's up to the one with the most desire to be the best, or the one who can conjure up the most sweat perhaps.
Most people know of Undefeatable from the infamous “Worst and/or best fight scene ever” YouTube clips, but it's so much more than that. It's a Godfrey Ho film, who for some strange reason used his secret name of Godfrey Hall on this Hong Kong produced American action film. Godfrey Ho is infamous for making trillions of Ninja movies in the ‘80s (well, one ninja film used a trillion times). These were the kind of Ninja movies where the Ninjas were proven to be Ninjas because they would have the word Ninja embroidered on their headbands. Undefeatable is not a Ninja film, but it is a Martial Arts film, and one that many might consider to be pretty much trash.
Personally, I could not disagree more. Sure, the film is awful, the dialogue is ridiculous, the acting poor, and all the sets consist of warehouses and factories, complete with steel drums and empty cardboard boxes. With that said, it's entertaining as all hell and for so many reasons, too. Stingray drives a '84 Plymouth Voyager, just like the one my mom had! But unfortunately, my mom never wore a sleeveless jean jacket like Stingray. To go with his jacket of jean, Stingray even spray paints purple stripes down the sides of his hair, because, well, I actually have no idea why he does this but he does, and it's awesome.
While there may be a handful of awkward and, quite frankly, odd moments strewn throughout, the fight scenes are more than competent and, at times, somewhat impressively done. However, a great deal of that credit goes to the cast of well-trained Martial Artists displaying a multitude of fighting styles and techniques. Bad and cheesy Undefeatable may be, but some of these actors are very impressive, and even the sight of John Miller's huge hairy tits cannot distract me from this fact. In all seriousness, Cynthia Rothrock is no joke and is easily one of the highest-ranking female Martial Artists to grace the screen, so it’s always a joy to watch her do what she does best. I must say, however, that I have never been so jealous of the ground than when Rothrock does the splits.
Undefeatable is a mess, but unlike the kind of mess your grandma makes after too much applesauce, it’s a fun mess to spend time with. When the male leads in a film rip off their shirts just to show off their extremely oiled and firm male breasts, or a character is proven to be tough by wearing chains OVER his Champion sweatshirt, it’s a pretty good indication that you should simply let all of your inhibitions go. It's just one of those movies that is a waste of time to hate for being bad, and doing so will do nothing but make you sad inside. If you can embrace the insanity of what you are witnessing on screen, then you too may become... Undefeatable. See ya!